Proof our youngsters need 60 minutes plus each day

Children who exercise between 60 and 85 minutes a day are less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases later in life, a recent European study has established.

Children are naturally active, but in our age of X-Boxes and internet, they’re unlikely to get the amount of daily exercise they need. Sure, we all have busy lives, and it can be tempting to turn on the television and let our kids blob out after school or kindy, but there is mounting evidence that sedentary lifestyles are damaging our children’s long-term health.

A recent study published online in the BMC Medicine journal has revealed a link between lack of exercise and the development of cardiovascular risk factors in children.

‘‘ By encouraging your kids to get active, you're investing in a lifetime of good health ’’

-Dr Jackie Mills

The study[i] collected information from over 3,000 European children aged between two and nine and analysed the link between their levels of activity and health markers including blood pressure, insulin resistance, cholesterol levels and more.

Unsurprisingly, the survey established that clusters of risk factors were more likely to be present in children who were not active.

Robert McMurray is professor emeritus from the Departments of Exercise and Sport Science and Nutrition, University of North Carolina. He has investigated cardiovascular disease risk factors and exercise in children for over two decades, and believes the study provides a vital first step in understanding the link between childhood inactivity and disease.

“The results suggest that even in young children, less than six years of age, there is some evidence of the clustered risk [of cardiovascular disease indicators] accruing. Therefore, early childhood prevention should be the focus of future interventions,” he comments in the BMC Medicine journal.

The study puts forward the necessity for children under 10 to get between 60 and 85 minutes of physical exercise a day. Of these 60 to 85 minutes, 20 minutes should be at a vigorous level.

The authors of the study conclude that this level of exercise will help to prevent heart disease and stroke later in life, and also significantly improve circulation.

Dr Jackie Mills, who oversees the development of Les Mills BORN TO MOVE™ program for young people, says, “With these facts front of mind it becomes clear that by encouraging your kids to get off the couch and get active, you are investing in a lifetime of good health.”

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